This course gives an introduction to writing for television. It is applicable to scriptwriters at the start of their career and more experienced writers as well. Most writers work alone, so this is a great opportunity to learn from a professional writer and see how he works, where he gets his ideas from, how he develops his characters, how he structures his episodes and how he writes his dialogue. Examples and clips of the tutorís work are shown throughout to illustrate the point. The course is run by Tom Needham, whose television credits include his own series Retrace and Cold Blood (starring John Hannah, Jemma Redgrave and Matthew Kelly) as well as Dalziel & Pascoe, Silent Witness, Casualty, Wycliffe and more episodes of The Bill than any other writer for the programme.
None except a passion to write.
A copy of an outline, a story-line and a script for an episode of The Bill. Lunch and refreshments.
What is it like to be a professional scriptwriter?
- Your first lesson is learning how to cope with the constant demand from editors to change your precious script. Your precious script, nurtured and loved, will be disfigured and you not only have to live with it but also do another draft. And another. Thereís a lot more to writing than writing ....
Still want to be a writer?
- If this hasnít put you off, then Tom will take you through the process, show you clips, tell stories and give plenty of examples of how he works. This session will provide initial analysis of the writing process, study of clips to understand storyline structure and a look at where to find stories and how to mine ideas. Tom explains how one article on opera led to several ideas for episodes of The Bill.
How to turn ideas into a drama
- A true story often isnít enough. Just because it happened, doesnít mean itís a good drama. Stories donít have to include huge events -- the contents of a letter can be just as devastating to someone as a bomb going off and is often far more dramatic. Learn how to use your ideas and stories to their best advantage.
How to develop characters and give those characters a voice
- Itís fine starting out and filling your scripts with composite friends and relatives, but what happens when you run out of those? Learn how to flesh out your characters, give a clear idea of who they are with a few lines of dialogue and learn how to let that character be changed by the course of events.
How to write dialogue that also tells the story
- Itís vital that dialogue not only sounds good, but moves the story on. Learn how to avoid Ďspelling it outí and how to feed information into conversation. Does your character really have to say that, or can he/she act it? Learn how to think in terms of Ďshowí rather than Ďtellí.
Structure, structure, structure
- Learn how vital it is to get the sequence of events in the right order. Scenes should be like dominoes; knock the first one over and it should set off the next and the next and the next...
Putting it all together
- Tom takes one of his half hour episodes of The Bill, explains where the idea came from, how the characters were developed and how the story took shape. It is then shown and discussed.
So you want to have a go yourself?
- Writing is all about re-writing. Scripts run to several drafts. Participants are given the chance to write and re-write dialogue from a given scene/brief from an episode of something Tom has already written. If willing, participants can submit their work to be commented on during the session. And finally the actual broadcast scene is shown for discussion and comparison with what participants have written.
Any other questions?
- A round up of the day with a question and answer session.